Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Inej laughed then winced. “Just stay.”
“All right,” said Nina. “Since you want to talk. Tell me why you don’t have the cup and crow on your arm.”
“Starting with the easy questions?”
Nina crossed her legs and planted her chin in her hands. “Waiting.”
Inej was quiet for a while. “You saw my scars.” Nina nodded. “When Kaz got Per Haskell to pay off my indenture with the Menagerie, the first thing I did was have the peacock feather tattoo removed.”
“Whoever took care of it did a pretty rough job.”
“He wasn’t a Corporalnik or even a medik.” Just one of the half-knowledgeable butchers who plied their trade among the desperate of the Barrel. He’d offered her a slug of whiskey, then simply hacked away at the skin, leaving a puckered spill of wounds down her forearm. She hadn’t cared. The pain was liberation. They had loved to talk about her skin at the House of Exotics. It was like coffee with sweet milk. It was like burnished caramel. It was like satin. She welcomed every cut of the knife and the scars it left behind. “Kaz told me I didn’t have to do anything but make myself useful.”
Kaz had taught her to crack a safe, pick a pocket, wield a knife. He’d gifted her with her first blade, the one she called Sankt Petyr—not as pretty as wild geraniums, but more practical, she supposed.
Maybe I’ll use it on you, she’d said.
He’d sighed. If only you were that bloodthirsty. She hadn’t been able to tell if he was kidding.
Now she shifted slightly on the table. There was pain, but it wasn’t too bad. Given how deep the knife had gone, her Saints must have been guiding Nina’s hand.
“Kaz said if I proved myself I could join the Dregs when I was ready. And I did. But I didn’t take the tattoo.”
Nina’s brows rose. “I didn’t think it was optional.”
“Technically it isn’t. I know some people don’t understand, but Kaz told me … he said it was my choice, that he wouldn’t be the one to mark me again.”
But he had, in his own way—despite her best intentions. Feeling anything for Kaz Brekker was the worst kind of foolishness. She knew that. But he’d been the one to rescue her, to see her potential. He’d bet on her, and that meant something—even if he’d done it for his own selfish reasons. He’d even dubbed her the Wraith.
I don’t like it, she’d said. It makes me sound like a corpse.
A phantom, he corrected.
Didn’t you say I was to be your spider? Why not stick with that?
Because there are plenty of spiders in the Barrel. Besides, you want your enemies to be afraid. Not think they can squash you with the toe of one boot.
He’d helped her build a legend to wear as armor, something bigger and more frightening than the girl she’d been. Inej sighed. She didn’t want to think about Kaz anymore.